Thursday, December 20, 2018

Operation "Give Retail a Chance"

I timed it... I spent a whole hour in line while attempting to return some "cute-but-way-too-big shoes" I bought for Oliver.
I decided I'd be patient when I walked into the store and noticed the check out line wrapped around the back wall and beyond.  I pulled out my phone and sucked up all my Candy Crush lives, cleared my inbox, scrolled through my FB and IG feeds and once I was done with that, I was still only half way to the next available cashier.  Out of 12 available registers, only 4 were open and, judging by their slow motions and lack of interest in providing any kind of customer service, the people who were working them were probably either drunk or had not slept in days
I get it, working in retail around the holidays must SUCK!- the lines, the rude customers, the mess that people leave behind when looking for the right size or their desired item, the frustration combined with everyone being in a rush for no reason.. it's mostly negative...but my perception is that the very same retail workers that complain about all these, are often the ones making it worse for everyone involved with their attitude and lack of empathy.
And while this isn't the case for every retail worker or even every retail store, the experience of shopping at the mall or a stand alone store is awful and not something I look forward to.
This year, however, I've read so much about how Amazon is killing the retail business and about how many people are out of jobs because people are shopping online instead, so I decided to give retail a chance by shopping at the mall or single stores instead of going straight to one click purchases. I tried every schedule combination possible and even started shopping well before December even rolled around and the results were always the same: a crappy experience often made worse by unhelpful staff at the stores, poor logistics, sad customer service, lack of options and non competitive prices.
I tried shopping at Macy's once and waited in line for about 40 minutes because most registers were "closed" since employees were either "on break" or "helping with inventory", as in helping customers was not a priority. Never did I perceive any willingness to make my shopping experience better, not from management and definitely not from regular store clerks.
On the flip side, I bought tons of items off Amazon and other websites with extremely prompt delivery, no hassle package, competitive prices and a smooth return/refund process whenever it was needed. There was just no comparison and my operation "Give Retail a Chance" turned into a complete failure; it was such a turn off to walk into a store only to have to deal with unruly crowds, unhelpful employees and lack of empathy, which turned into frustration and often anger.
I must point out though, that I am in no way a frantic shopper who goes crazy overspending or over buying; I'm probably just the average mom who worries about getting simple gifts for her kids, teachers and maybe a few close relatives or friends; I wasn't looking for a "hot" toy or the latest computer model, phone or watch.... I was simply trying to shop for mundane items...and the operation was still a failure.. giving retail a chance was not a good idea!
I will, however, give credit to some of the stores that did make it a pleasurable experience.  Stores such as Target where employees seemed genuinely concerned about the shopping experience and where amazing sales were available on a daily basis; Walgreens, where managers were willing to step it up and open extra registers when needed; HomeGoods, where employees were always helpful and friendly and did their best to keep the store organized among the chaos.
My worst experiences happened at Old Navy, Ross, TJMaxx, Macy's and a few other shops at the mall.  Those stores are the reason retail is becoming a thing of the past and I feel sorry for all the families who depend on these businesses to put food on their tables.  But the truth is that Amazon did not kill retail, poor customer service did.. and continues to do so...
Next year I will go straight to Amazon and I'm not looking back!

What was your shopping experience like? Did you shop mostly online or did you brave the stores?

Happy Shopping!

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